Dario Franchitti was back behind the wheel of an IndyCar for the first time since the disastrous race at Las Vegas, as he had his first outing in the new 2012 IndyCar Safety Cell chassis for Honda at Sebring International Raceway in Florida on Thursday.
Media reports during the week have quoted manufacturer Gian Paolo Dallara as saying that the new car will bear the production name of 'DW12' in memory of Dan Wheldon, who was killed in the multi-car accident at Vegas.
“I'm really appreciative of Dallara naming the car after Dan; he did put a lot of work into it," said Franchitti.
Dario had earlier made it clear that he has no intention at this point of quitting motor sport in the wake of Wheldon's death, one his closest friends in the series: "I've definitely wondered if it's worth it," Franchitti told The Associated Press
earlier this week. "But I believe I still want to race."
Franchitti's cousin, Force India F1 driver Paul Di Resta, echoed Dario's feelings in an interview in New Delhi ahead of the Grand Prix of India.
"I know that Dario is out testing the new car at Sebring this week and he has said in interviews that it has made him think; only time will tell. If he wants to continue we'll support that decision," said Di Resta. "It's hurt him ... Dan was a very close friend."
Instead, Franchitti is channelling his energy into leading the drivers' group inputting into safety reviews of the IndyCar Series in the wake of Vegas, along with Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson.
"Dario, Tony and Justin have taken the lead in unifying us and we're in a great group," said veteran series driver Davey Hamilton after a three-hour meeting between the drivers and series organisers at Indianapolis on Monday. "We've been exchanging calls and emails in a very positive way. We're doing it for the wellness of our sport."
It means that Franchitti is following in the footsteps of his childhood hero and mentor, fellow Scot Sir Jackie Stewart, who overcame huge opposition to spearhead the transformation of safety standards in F1 in the 60s and 70s.
"The difference we have now that maybe Jackie didn't have is that the promoters and the sport in general were not supporting him," said Franchitti on Monday. "As drivers, we have the support of each other, the support of the IndyCar Series and the fans and everybody."